Learn more about food and how to make healthy food choices if you have diabetes.
Healthy foods give you energy to live, learn, and be active.
Put it all together… great tips for a healthier you
Be healthy, happy, and active!
Why eat healthy foods?
Healthy foods give you energy to live, learn, and be active. They help you to:
Grow at a healthy rate and stay active.
Keep your blood glucose (GLOO-kos), also called blood
sugar, in balance—not too high and not too low.
Lose weight slowly, if needed, under your doctor’s care.
diabetes need to
eat special foods?
No, they do not. Meals that
are healthy for teens with
diabetes are great for
family, and your
How does food
affect my body?
Food is the fuel that our
bodies use for energy. The
three main sources of fuel are
protein, and fat. The body changes
these fuels into glucose for energy or
stores them as fat. Eating a balance of
foods that contain carbohydrates (carbs for
short), protein, and fat every day will help keep
your blood glucose close to normal. It may also
keep your weight where you and your doctor
want it to be.
Fats are a good source of fuel for the body and help you grow. Fat does not make blood glucose go up but too much fat can make you gain weight. Some fats are better for you than others.
Choose the types of fats that keep your heart
- Small portions of low-fat salad dressing, mayonnaise, and margarine.
- Small amounts of nuts, olives, and olive oil.
- A slice of avocado.
Choose these high fat foods less often. They are
not healthy for your heart:
- Butter, stick margarine, and regular
- Fried foods like potato chips and french fries.
- Meats with fat on them, bacon, deli meats,
and hot dogs.
- Cakes, cookies, pies, and other desserts.
Protein helps build strong
muscles and bones. Foods with protein do not make
blood glucose go up like carbs do. Having protein in
your meal can help you feel less hungry.
Foods that are a good source of protein include:
- Meat and poultry without skin or extra fat.
- Fish, low-fat cheese, and eggs.
- Natural peanut butter and soy products
Carbs are a great source of energy for our bodies.
Many foods contain carbs. Some are better for you than
others. If you eat too many carbs at one time, your
blood glucose may get too high. Learn to eat the
right amount at meals and snack times to keep
your blood glucose in balance.
Choose carbs that have lots of fiber:
- Whole grain foods—whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and cereals.
- Lentils and dried peas or beans such as kidney, black,
white, split, or black-eyed. These foods
are also a good source of protein.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables from
every color of the rainbow—red,
orange, yellow, white, green, blue,
- Other good sources of carbs include
non- or low-fat dairy foods, soy milk,
pasta, potatoes, corn, squash, and yams.
Choose these carbs less often:
- white bread
- white rice
- sweetened fruit drinks
- regular soda
- sweets and desserts
What should I eat?
“Your Healthy Food Guide” gives ideas about what kinds of foods are good for you.
Remember, this is only a guide. Ask your doctor or dietitian about making a meal plan just for you.
Choose dark green and orange
vegetables as often as you can.
Aim for 2 1⁄2 to 3 cups a day. Here are choices that equal 1 cup:
- 1 cup cut up raw or cooked or
- 2 cups leafy salad greens
- 1 cup vegetable juice
Aim for 3 cups a day. Here
are choices that equal 1 cup:
- 1 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
- 1 1⁄2 ounces cheese
Choose fresh whole
fruits as often as you can.
Aim for 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups a day.
Here are choices that equal
- 1 cup cut up raw or cooked
- 1 cup fruit juice
- 1⁄2 cup dried fruit
Choose fresh whole fruits as often as you can.
Choose whole grain
foods for at least
3 of your 6 choices.
Aim for 6 to 7 ounces a day.
Here are choices that equal
- 1⁄2 cup of cooked cereal
- 1⁄2 cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
- 1 slice of whole grain bread
- 1⁄2 small bagel or 1 small muffin
Choose whole grain foods for at least 3 of your 6 choices.
Aim for 5 to 6 ounces a day. Here
are choices that equal 1 ounce:
- 1 ounce lean meat, fish, or chicken
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1⁄2 ounce nuts
- 1⁄4 cup cooked dry peas or beans such
as kidney, white, split, or blackeye
- 1⁄4 cup tofu
One serving is
- 1 teaspoon vegetable, olive, or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon tub margarine
- 5 large olives or 1⁄8 avocado
- 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons low-fat salad dressing
How much should you eat?
You get most of the fat your body needs from
other foods you eat—so choose only a few extra servings of
these heart-healthy fats each day.
||If you choose to eat these foods, have a
very small amount and not every day.
Source: USDA (www.usda.gov)
What about sugar, sweets, and desserts? Am I allowed to eat them again?
Most people like the taste of sweet foods.
Small amounts of foods that contain
sugar can be part of a healthy meal plan.
Desserts such as cakes, muffins, pies,
cookies, and ice cream contain a lot of
fat as well as sugar. If you choose to eat
any of these sweet foods, just have a
small amount at the end of a healthy
meal. Have a piece of fruit if you are
Avoid regular soda, sweetened fruit
drinks, and sports drinks as they are all
high in sugar. Drink water instead.
How much should I eat?
The amount of food you need to eat each day varies with your age, sex, height, and activity
level. The amounts in “Your Healthy Food Guide” are right for girls
age 11 to 17 or boys age 11 to 14 who get 30 to 60 minutes of physical
activity each day. If you are a boy older than 14, or if you want to
enter your own height or activity level, visit www.mypyramid.gov.
Ask your doctor or dietitian about making a meal plan just for
you, especially if you need to lose weight. Being active and eating
smaller amounts of food and fewer sweet or fatty foods can help you
lose weight in a healthy way. You will keep your heart healthy, too.
It is best to spread your food out over the day. Eat breakfast,
lunch, dinner, and a snack—check out your options with your
doctor or dietitian. You will have a good supply of energy and
you will not get too hungry.
For fun, take the “Portion Distortion Quiz” at hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion. You will learn how today’s serving sizes compare to portions 20 years ago. You
will also see how much physical activity you need to do to
burn up the extra calories in today’s food portions.
Putting it all together.
- Learn about healthy foods and make healthy
choices at each meal and snack.
- Ask your health care team
to help you make and use a
healthy eating plan.
- Choose water to drink.
- Be physically active for at
least 60 minutes every day.
- Take the correct amounts of
insulin or pills, if you need
them to manage your diabetes, and check you
blood glucose at the times planned with your
health care team.
- Keep screen time to two hours
or less a day. This includes
time watching TV, playing
video or computer games, and
using the computer.
- Use this tip sheet to help you
reach your goals!
Not sure how to
deal with all this?
To learn more check out…
National Diabetes Education Program
to get free copies of other tip sheets for teens:
- What Is Diabetes?
- Be Active
- Stay at a Healthy Weight
- Dealing With the Ups and Downs of Diabetes
- Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
www.YourDiabetesInfo.org • 1-888-693-NDEP
American Association of Diabetes Educators to find
a diabetes educator near you www.diabeteseducator.org
American Diabetes Association for help
to manage diabetes www.diabetes.org/planetD
American Dietetic Association to find a dietitian near
you www.eatright.org • 1-800-366-1655
Bam! Body and Mind website for help to stay healthy
Children With Diabetes website for more about kids and
families with diabetes www.childrenwithdiabetes.com
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
for help to manage diabetes
www.jdrf.org • 1-800-223-1138
National Association for Health and Fitness that
promotes physical activity
www.physicalfitness.org • 1-716-583-0521
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse for
more about diabetes
www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov • 1-800-860-8747
Nutrition and Physical Activity website for healthy eating
tips and the Kids Walk to School Program
WIN – Weight-control Information Network for
weight control help
- Take Charge of Your Health! A Teenager’s Guide to Better Health
Special thanks to the teens who helped create this tip sheet
Francine Kaufman, M.D., Head, Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and Janet Silverstein, M.D., Professor and Chief, Pediatric
Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
reviewed this material for technical accuracy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than 200 partner organizations. www.YourDiabetesInfo.org or 1-888-693-NDEP
Revised November 2007 NIH Publication No. 08-5295 NDEP-66
*PDF files require the free
Adobe Acrobat Reader application for viewing.
All our publications are copyright-free. Please duplicate and distribute as many copies of these materials as desired.
Attention visually impaired visitors: To use common screen reading programs with PDF documents, please visit access.adobe.com, which provides a set of free tools that convert PDF documents to simple HTML or ASCII text.